Wait, You're Doing What?!?
I believe I’ve finally found some clarity about my path forward. As I write these essays and interview guests on my podcast, I’ve realized that the piece missing from my professional life is an opportunity to focus less on treating illness, and more on finding ways to promote preventative health and wellness.
When individuals see me for mental health issues, I have many tools to offer, but I often wish I had a time machine to travel with them to an earlier point in their lives. I imagine us sitting down and discussing how they could challenge their limiting beliefs, motivate healthy behaviors and move forward with strength, perhaps never needing medical treatment for anxiety or depression.
With that in mind, I’ve started to offer coaching. If you google the word (as, I admit, I have done repeatedly), you will see the options are broad: executive coaching, life coaching, health and wellness coaching, leadership coaching, and many others. I could attempt to label the type I’m offering as “Mind Coaching” but really I’m just trying to utilize all of my training to help people grow and flourish in their current lives.
Coaching is a relatively new field, and due to its lack of a unified credentialing process, it can be a somewhat opaque process to find a coach that fits your needs. Great coaches may have various degrees or certifications. In my case, coaching with another physician allowed me to express the unique challenges women in medicine face, but you may have your own preference.
Spending the last two decades seeking that gold star for finishing at the top of the class or achieving that desired promotion, I admit I’ve made choices to try to impress and accomplish. In this case, however, I was worried that my medical degree might actually interfere with the ability to help people. Would I be judged for shifting some of my time from treating mental illness to promoting and encouraging mental wellness?
Not surprisingly, my biggest doubts grew not from conversations with others, but upon self-reflection. If I have the training to practice clinically as a psychiatrist, isn’t that what I should be doing? Would people really be interested in working with me as a coach? My husband, a practicing surgeon, summarized my rambling doubts with grace, stating “You seem to be moving from an illness model to a wellness model.” Right! Wait, can you say that again so I can write it down?
As his words reflect, I can see now that I’m not veering so far from my clinical training. In fact, I now have a much larger potential audience to impact. I’m helping those who aren’t facing a mental health diagnosis, but are dissatisfied in their current lives. They may be thinking they “should” be feeling happier or more fulfilled, but are struggling. Or maybe they have many areas of their lives on track, but need the boost of thoughtful inquiry to help them reach their health goals, nurture a meaningful relationship, or move forward professionally.
I am fortunate to have this opportunity to build even more meaning and exciting challenge into my professional life, sharing what I’ve learned over the past decade, including techniques in positive psychology, motivational interviewing, behavioral neuroscience, sleep science, nutritional optimization, and integrative health.
As a coach, I am not diagnosing illness or prescribing medications. Rather, I’m helping my clients increase meaning in their current lives, set and achieve goals, and find a fulfilling path forward. I am “coaching their minds” to allow their true, powerful, beautiful selves to more clearly appear. And by joining them as a guide on that journey, my life is also immeasurably changed.